University Construction Language Guide wins TCS Award – University of Reading12 December 2001
A world-class project management tool developed with the help of TCS has enabled consulting engineers W S Atkins to increase it profits and win new business worth nearly £1 million a year.
The Construction Design and Management Guide (CDMG), which provides a 'common language' for architects, designers and managers, has enabled the company to greatly improve the effectiveness of its design and management of projects across the globe.
Construction is a fragmented 'design to order' industry involving professionals who all work in different disciplines and speak different technical languages. This frequently causes problems on projects. W S Atkins had also grown very fast through acquisitions and this had caused difficulties in developing common project processes.
The company teamed up with the Department of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading to find a method for the better control and improvement of project processes.
Two TCS Associates, Louise Stevens, a graduate in Landscape Architecture, and Daniel Jones, with a degree in Building Surveying, researched, designed and implemented the CDMG. During their research they investigated five major projects, including one in Hong Kong.
The CDMG was tested on a focus group of experienced project managers and then put into an e-format for use on the company's intranet, making it accessible to W S Atkins staff anywhere in the world, plus authorised associates and sub-contractors.
The e-guide acts as a 'prompt' or discrete tutor for practising project managers and provides them with a self-training tool for setting up and managing a project. It also provides a benchmark standard of best practice for setting up, managing and measuring a wide range of projects undertaken by the W S Atkins Group. The best practice techniques contained in the guide will be refreshed as appropriate.
The launch of the CDMG was attended by the company's Chief Executive Officer, directors and senior project and design managers. As a result, the TCS Associates were asked to give regional presentations on the use of the guide and to brief the team for a major Private Finance Initiative project who believed it could offer them a major design cost saving and competitive advantage. The launch was also videoed and copies sent to offices worldwide.
W S Atkins anticipates a continual improvement in performance as the CDMG becomes increasingly embedded in the work of its staff. Both wasted work effort and man-hours per unit of work have been reduced, making a big impact on the company's profitability.
The TCS Programme gave university staff an opportunity to apply their research to the development and implementation of tools required by a world-class engineering design company.
A module in design management, offered on MSc courses in Construction Management and Project Management, and the Integrated Graduate Development Scheme (IGDS) course in Intelligent Buildings, is now based entirely on one of the major projects investigated as part of the Programme.
Both TCS Associates remained with W S Atkins at the end of the TCS Programme: Daniel Jones as a member of the Virtual Reality and Object Oriented Modelling team in W S Atkins IT Systems, and Louise Stevens as a Project Administrator in W S Atkins Scotland. Both Associates are registered for MPhil degrees and will publish research papers.
For further details, please contact Sue Rayner or Carol Derham on 0118 378 8004/5 Fax 0118 378 8924.